The stunning, Aneta Helena Wira, of the Polish National Ballet, recently got the chance to work with the Flexistretcher. Check out her blog post to read her full review of the Flexistretcher!
Get to know one of our #FLXElites, Jovana Mirosavljevic, professional dancer and owner of Backstage Dance Store! Check out this quick Q&A about everything, from her favorite costume to Jovana's personal motivation. Want to learn more? Follow Jovana's instagram @jovanamirosavljevic to stay up-to-date.
Who/what inspired you to start dancing? When I was three years old I saw “l’Etoile” (ou La danseuse sur scene), painting by Edgar Degas. I just explained to my parents that that’s me.
Tell us your faves!
What’s your favorite Ballet? “In the Middle,Somewhat Elevated” (But there are so many that I adore). If classical, let’s say “La Bayadere”.
Role to dance? I loved dancing Carmen , but I enjoyed so many other non classical roles more.
Stage you have danced on? Sidney Harman Hall, Washington DC, and stage of Croatian national theatre, always in my heart.
Ballet costume? Definitely my Carmen costumes by Michal Negrin, israeli fashion designer.
Place you have travelled to? NYC, always.
What gives you inspiration? Nowadays, strength , challenge, overcoming the obstacles.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? Two and a half years ago, when I had a “career ending” injury, which all of a sudden turned into my biggest strength.
What motivates you? My new dance life, second chance, my new life outside of dance, love, friends, family, GJUUM, Patrick Rump, and lately Stuart Loungway.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you? That I lift heavy weights and that I actually eat a lot!
Pre-performance routine? 30 minutes nap is a must, then make up and hair, GJUUM warm up, warm up class, some Flexistretcher, and I’m ready.
Favorite non-dance hobbies? Modeling has always been my favourite hobby, and I was lucky enough to make it into much more than a hobby.
Go-to cross training outside of the studio? My only training “religion” is GJUUM.
Words to live by? #doit
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite? Stromae, Forsythe, Sylvie, Christy Turlington, Marion Cotillard and of course Audrey if she was still alive...
If you could partner with any celebrity, who would it be? Stromae, but if we’re talking about dance celebrity then I was already lucky enough to dance with Darion Christopher Flores, who is , trust me, about to become a huge ballet celebrity.
If you could turn any movie into a ballet, what movie would you choose? “Closer”
Best piece of advice? Just love yourself enough to live this life exactly as you want it.
I began using the Flexistretcher and FLX Ball about a year ago to try to regain the flexibility and strength I had lost when the breast cancer metastasized to my bones.
It was devastating to discover that much of the flexibility in both my extension and my back were greatly diminished. How could something I had worked years to build disappear so quickly?Then a very good friend recommended I try Flexistretcher and FLX Ball. I had only seen super-flexible dancers using it and I wondered whether it could help my body whose spine, sternum and pelvis were damaged by cancer.
I began using them regularly and saw results from the very first day.
They helped my body find the proper alignment and regain the strength I had lost. I began really believing that I could indeed return to dance. This lifted my spirits almost as much as seeing my breast tumor shrink following chemo. Cancer teaches you to become very tuned in to your body. You learn some days are better than others, and it is better to take it easy on bad days so that you can really push yourself on the good days.
Because of this, I don’t have a set Flexistretcher routine: much depends on how my body feels and what else I have to do that day. Sometimes I just stretch, other times I really focus on strengthening exercises. I try to use it in the morning before ballet class, but that doesn’t always happen because sometimes I am running late. In that case, I try to use it later in the day. If it is a beautiful day, I like using the Flexistretcher on my deck in the fresh air and sunshine to get some natural Vitamin D. Sometimes my dogs join me. One of the best things about Flexistretcher is its versatility.
While it certainly helps dancers and gymnasts, it’s also beneficial for pretty much everyone.
This past summer, my mom had trouble regaining quad strength following total knee replacement surgery. She also wanted to increase her range of motion beyond the average post-op standard so she could return to her yoga practice. I asked Rachel to suggest ways my mom could use Flexistretcher to help with these problems. Rachel came up with a great exercise program that my mom followed religiously. She found it more helpful than physical therapy which had caused a great deal of inflammation and did not help with expanding range of motion.
Thanks to Flexistretcher, her quad strength returned very quickly and so did her range of motion. At her six week follow-up, her surgeon was so impressed with her progress, he told her to stop physical therapy and continue with the Flexistretcher. You don’t have to be a dancer or super flexible to use the flexistretcher products. They can help anyone who is trying to cross train, work out, rehab an injury, recover from surgery, or get stronger after chemotherapy. Flexistretcher and FLX Ball truly worked miracles in my body.
In October we FLX in PINK! Shop & support the Bald Ballerina with her ongoing fight against Metastatic Breast Cancer. 100% of PINK Flexistretcher sales this month will go directly to this fearless warrior & her treatments.
We are proud to have Elite Ambassador, Certified FLX Conditioning Specialist & Avid Flexistretcher Enthusiast Maggie Kudirka a part of our FLX family. Also known as the Bald Ballerina, Maggie was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer in June 2014.
Since then, she has undergone surgery and treatments, living a life filled with hope despite a very poor medical prognosis: stage 4 metastatic breast cancer that had spread to the sternum, spine, and pelvis; median life expectancy 2-3 years.
We are continuing to support Maggie & the Bald Ballerina Organization she created to spread awareness of this disease. To learn more & donate to our fearless FLX warrior, click here.
In addition, 100% of PINK Flexistretcher sales will go towards the Bald Ballerina and her cancer treatments this month.
1.) Go-to cross training fix? Aside from dancing, I love Pilates and any advice from one of our company teachers Charla Glenn.
2.) What’s your favorite part of class? Adagio—I love to let me legs be free.
3.) Morning must-have before work? A nice, hot shower. That's the best way. Can't forget about a good cup of joe!
4.) Finish this sentence: I can’t live without... the theatre, my Flexistretcher and Bloch booties (Thanks, Maxim and Irina!)
5.) Favorite warm up? How do you wear it? My new favorite warm up is my Leather Odile Vest by FLX NYC and I wear it zipped up to start class and as the day goes it gradually begins to open up. I even wear it out on the streets during break, just to keep my body from cooling down too much in between breaks.
1.) HOT-SPOT: Delicatessen.
"First, it has the most amazing breakfast. Second, breakfast is served ALL DAY. Third, it's a great spot to just sit, relax and talk to my best friends. It's our go to spot especially when there's trouble in paradise."
2.) LANDMARK: The Columbus Circle Fountain
"It's usually the first stop on the way to a great night."
3.) HIDDEN GEM: Groove Lounge in West Village
"Live music, great music and of course dancing! This spot is hiding in plain sight."
4.) ACTIVITY: Trying new restaurants & bakeries.
"In New York the options are endless. Secretly, I'm a foodie. I love trying new foods and sweets, from all cultures. My secret is out."
5.) NEIGHBORHOOD: Hamilton Heights, of course.
"Home is where the heart is. The area is more of a neighborhood and less like a big city. Plus, I like knowing who is handling my laundry and coffee."
1.) HOT-SPOT: Jimmy at the James Hotel
2.) LANDMARK: Empire State Building, from a distance.
3.) HIDDEN GEM: Riverside Park. Love walking my dog there.
4.) ACTIVITY: Seeing movies movies, having dinner parties with friends on my roof.
5.) NEIGHBORHOOD: Upper West Side!
Get to know Ballet West's first soloist, Allison DeBona! We've got the inside scoop from her ballet faves to her dream-list celebrity dinner dates. Check Allison out on Instagram, @allidebona, to stay up-to-date on her life in and out of the studio!
Who/what inspired you to start dancing? When I was three my mother put me in ballet and gymnastics. She said I made the choice that I didn’t like gymnastics and just wanted to do ballet! The rest is history, I guess!
Tell us your faves!
What’s your favorite Ballet? Nicolo Fonte’s ‘Rite of Spring’ that was originated on Ballet West.
Role to dance? I don’t have one.
Stage you have danced on? I loved dancing at Millennium Park for the Chicago Dancing Festival because I felt like a rock star in front of 12k people!
Ballet costume? Ballet West’s Snow pas de deux tutu from The Nutcracker! I feel so pretty in all white!
Place you have travelled to? Victoria, B.C..
What gives you inspiration? Making my family proud is what drives me most to succeed.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? Not having the confidence in myself when I need to most.
What motivates you? Right now, what motivates me is having a stable future for a family one day. Our careers are so short, but I’m trying to make the most of mine and turn it into a sustainable future.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you? I am not capable of lying. Sometimes I really wish I could, but if I tried, you would know.
Pre-performance routine? It changes based on the rep we are doing. But, whatever I do the first day of theatre week will stay for the entire run. The one thing that stays consistent is a hot shower before I head back to the theatre.
Favorite non-dance hobbies? Playing football.
Go-to cross training outside of the studio? Running and lifting weights.
Words to live by? It’s OK to have bad days.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite? Tim Burton, Val Kilmer, Justin Timberlake, Ben Roethlisberger, the Pope and Oprah.
If you could partner with any celebrity, who would it be? Channing Tatum
If you could turn any movie into a ballet, what movie would you choose? The Monster Squad.
Best piece of advice? Don’t be afraid to do what makes you happy.
We have to ask!...what’s your most memorable outtake on set with Breaking Pointe? Anything from the night in Season 1 when they had Katie Critchlow (my old roommate) and I stretching in our dining room. Ridiculous!
"...dance is, as I see it, a form of poetry for which physical prowess is merely a means but surely not an end. Dancers who get stuck emphasizing only the athletic aspect of dance seem to have only one note they strike repeatedly. They appear to be shouting all of the time. It’s the difference between yelling and singing. Barton sings. It’s a choice.” - Lar Lubovitch
Take 5 & Get to Know FLX Model Barton Cowperthwaite!
- His formal ballet training started at age 13 when he was accepted into Denver School of the Arts. He attended University of Arizona as a Dance Major, aided by both dance and academic scholarships.
- He graduated cum laude with a BFA in dance one year early in May 2013. In his time at UA he performed many works including the principal male roles in George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante and Rubies.
- Barton transitioned immediately upon his graduation into working with Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys of Dance as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet.
- He was involved in the creation process of a pas de deux with Alessandra Ferri choreographed by Fang Yi Sheu, where he stepped in for Hermon Cornejo when he was injured.
- He earned the Principal role in Lar Lubovitch’s new work The Black Rose performed at The Joyce Theater.
Courtney Lavine of American Ballet Theatre
1.) Go-to cross training fix? Pilates for sure - keeps my muscles strong.
2.) What’s your favorite part of class? Grande allegro! I love jumping.
3.) Morning must-have before work? Coffee! I'm not a morning person.
4.) Finish this sentence: I can’t live without... my pictures of my friends and familyy @ the theatre.
5.) Favorite warm up? How do you wear it? Leg warmers. I usually take all my warms ups off except my leg warmers.
We recently met up at Riverside Park in NYC with FLX Model & new Dutch National Ballet Junior Company Member, Melissa Chapski (@ballerinachi via Instagram). She recently finished up her two years of intensive studies with Ellison Ballet School before heading to Amsterdam to jump right in to her professional career. Likes most dancers who sign contracts at age 18, Melissa eats, sleeps and breathes classical ballet.
Find out more about this young professional on the rise!
Q: What age did you start dancing?
I danced recreationally until the age of 14 and then decided that I wanted to pursue dancing several days a week after attending Ellison Ballet Summer Intensive. I ended up quitting all the sports that I had been playing up until then so that I could dance six days a week.
Q: Where are you dancing now?
I am dancing with the Dutch National Ballet’s Junior Company in Amsterdam for the 2015-2016 season.
Q: What is your dream company?
My dream companies (in no order) are Mariinsky and Dutch National Ballet.
Q: What is your favorite performance so far & why?
My favorite performances so far have been those at the Indianapolis International Ballet Competition this year (June 2015). I danced a variation from Raymonda, a contemporary solo called “Weight of Darkness”, and a variation from Paquita. These were my favorite performances because they were my last performances as a student and I really felt myself opening up as an artist. I felt that I really left my soul on the stage and fully gave myself to the audience. It was definitely a special time for me and a turning point in my dancing that I will always remember, thanks to my wonderful coach from Ellison Ballet, Ms. Erin Forrest.
Q: Favorite variation?
Top three (no order) - First act Raymonda, known as the “Vision” variation or the “Tableau de Reve”; All Aurora variations; Nikiya’s Monologue.
Q: Dream role?
Aurora for sure.
Q: What are some of your hobbies when you aren't dancing?
Eating good food, watching ballet, shopping, going to the beach, exploring…..
Q: What is your fave dessert?
Depends on the mood - either frozen yogurt or chocolate cake. :)
Q: If you could partner with any celebrity, who would it be?
Mikhail Baryshnikov for sure.
Q: If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
St. Petersburg, Russia.
Love our photos? Most of the photography you see on our website & social media is from our FLX photo shoots with premiere dance photographer, Renata Pavam. Pavam has an eye for dance photography, coming from a ballet background. Did you know she used to be an American Ballet Theatre company member? Get to know our star FLX photographer in this exclusive Q&A!
What inspired you to photograph?
I definitely always liked taking photos. I love looking back at them after a while. But after I saw a fellow dancer's photos, (Rosalie O'Connor) I started thinking I really wanted to take it seriously. I loved the backstage feel of ballet. Everyone looks so beautiful in their hair and make up, how can you not want to take a photo?! So I got a camera and started playing around with my colleagues from ABT. Then I realized I actually loved it, and was kinda good at it!
How do you bring your background as a dancer to photography?
Dancers are very critical and perfectionist. You have to be. You're in front of a mirror all day long looking at whatever you're doing wrong, and how to fix it. So that's what I do when I take a photo. I never think it's good enough, always trying to make it better. I try to pay attention to every detail. I think that comes from my life as a dancer. And when I shoot dancers, I can help them out and say what position looks good or not. It's like I’m their mirror and they trust me.
Your favorite shooting locations. Go.
I loved the shoot we did at the Dream Hotel. A lot of different places to get a good photos. I also love rooftops, especially in NYC. I'm sure it would be amazing to do a shoot at the Paris Opera. It's such a gorgeous building. Maybe someday.
If you could photograph anyone, who would it be?
Sylvie Guillem! At any point of her career. She's just such an amazing creature. She's not from this world, and there's no one like her.
Check out some of our Renata-FLX favorites below!
Isadora practicing for La Bayadere and the renowned arabesque entrance of the Shades!
Flexibility paired with strength is imperative for each dancer to zig zag down the stage with control performing arabesque after arabesque, and seemingly float in unison, successfully putting the audience in a trance and capturing the essence of the scene.
Read more on Isadora here:
FLX Model Adrienne Canterna has travelled all over the world with her company Bad Boys of Ballet, and uses FLX products on the road to stay in peak performance shape. Learn about how this dancer, choreographer, artistic director (and mom!) grew her career as an artistic athlete.
Hometown: Glen Burnie, Maryland
FLX Fave: The Flexistretcher
- Adrienne began dancing at age 3.
- She was a scholarship graduate of the Kirov Academy of Ballet and a national and international guest artist, choreographer, teacher and judge.
- In 1998, she was the youngest American ever to win the JR. FEMALE GOLD MEDAL at the Jackson International Ballet Competition at the age of 15.
- She has performed across the USA, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Caribbean.
Adrienne has danced with numerous companies including the Washington Ballet, Universal Ballet and Complexions Contemporary Ballet.
- She was a Principal Guest Ballerina with the Universal Ballet in Seoul, Korea for their productions of "Don Quixote", "The Nutcracker" and "La Bayadere".
- Adrienne is the choreographer & co-creator of the international hit dance show "ROCK the Ballet.”
- She was a special guest performer with the BAD BOYS of DANCE on FOX TV's "So You Think You Can Dance".
- In 2013 she choreographed an all new Rock the Ballet show. Adrienne is the Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer of Rasta Thomas' "Bad Boys of Dance" and Artistic Director of "Pretty Girls of Dance".
- In late 2014, Adrienne and the Bad Boys of Dance rocked the NBC show “America’s Got Talent.”
- She is the choreographer and leading dancer in her work that gives a spin on Shakespeare’s traditional Romeo and Juliet. They just had a successful run at Sadler’s Wells in London!
We love FLX Model Ronit Shamuilov because she is a rhythmic gymnast and athlete with all the traits we admire:
Control. Endurance. Strength. Flexibility. And dedication to her passion.
A resident of Brooklyn, Ronit trains at Isadora Rhythmics in New York. Now a senior level gymnast, she is the 2014 U.S ribbon champion in the USA Gymnastics Championship. We met up with Ronit last year in Central Park with FLX photographer Renata Pavam and had an amazing time shooting around NYC. Her flexibility, grace and strength is inspiring and is a perfect fit with our other fantastic FLX Models.
Ronit is a rhythmic gymnast on the rise, and we can’t wait to see where her next front walkover takes her! You can check out Ronit’s Athlete page on the USA Gymnastics site, here.
Ogawa practicing her arabesque using her Flexistretcher in a daily rehearsal.
Kaho Ogawa was born in Tokushima, Japan and began her ballet training at the age of three. She studied with Yoshimi Ohara, Eriko Kushima, and Hiroshi Tokuyama. She has won number awards in prestigious competitions including the Tokyo National Ballet Competition and the All Japan Ballet Union Competition (at which she received the Grand First Prize three years consecutively). In 2010, Osgawa won the Silver Medal at Youth America Grand Prix, and received a full scholarship to train at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. In January 2012, Ogawa was privileged to compete at the Prix de Lausanne.
Ogawa joined the Studio Company in February 2012 and American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in November 2012.
Born in Los Angeles, California, and raised in Fairfax, Virginia, Courtney Lavine began her dance training at an early age. At the age of 8, she began a dedicated pursuit of classical ballet under the tutelage of Troy Brown, formally of Pacific Northwest Ballet. She won numerous first place awards in commercial dance competitions and in 2001 won The Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) Regional “Hope Award”. That same year, at the YAGP New York City Finale, she won a full scholarship to study at the Kirov Institute in Washington, DC. Lavine was also offered the “Virginia Johnson Scholarship” by the Washington Ballet School and began her studies there in 2001. She was also featured in the Washington Post for her performance as Clara in the Washington Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker”.
Lavine has studied on scholarship at The School of American Ballet (SAB) and San Francisco Ballet Summer Intensive programs. She studied full time at SAB under an honorary merit scholarship. Lavine joined ABT’s Studio Company in 2008. She joined American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in February 2010 and the Corps de Ballet in August.
Her repertory includes the Nanny and the Sugar Plum Fairy in Alexei Ratmansky's The Nutcracker and Cinderella in The Sleeping Beauty, as well as roles in all of the Company's full-length ballets.